Special Topics and Course Descriptions

Winter 2020



EN 250: Images of Women: Bad Girls and Rebels in North American Women’s Writing

Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:00-2:40 pm
Professor Amy Hamilton

This course’s theme is “Bad Girls and Rebels in North American Women’s Writing.” We will read and discuss texts by and about women who refuse conventional ideas about what makes a woman “good” or “feminine.” Some of the women and girls we will encounter do things that are morally questionable and/or ethically “wrong.” Others rebel in ways that we might find inspiring and even “good.” We will read about infidelity, kidnapping, gangs, secrets, betrayal, murder, and more. We will meet neglectful mothers, rebellious daughters, untrustworthy friends, unrepentant (and repentant) liars, savvy gamblers, and mysterious strangers. Through it all we will interrogate what constitutes women’s “badness” and “goodness” and how those expectations and preconceptions shape the lives and experiences of both characters and authors.

This course counts as an elective for English majors, English minors, and Gender and Sexuality Studies minors.




EN 310: Literature and the Bible, TR 11:00 - 12:40
Faculty:  Dr. Lynn Domina, ldomina@nmu.edu

Why are the servant women in The Handmaid’s Tale called Marthas? What is Frederick Douglass talking about when he refers to the belief that American slavery was justified because God cursed Ham? Why is one of William Faulkner’s most famous novels called Absalom, Absalom? Who was King David anyway? When Milton wrote Paradise Lost, how much did he rely on the Bible, and how much did he create anew?

In this class, we’ll read the Bible as literature, exploring its stories and poems, learning about prophets and parables. We’ll read about murder, incest, and genocide as well as about miracles and peace. We’ll discuss the influence of the Bible on all kinds of classic and modern literature. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to know what the Bible really says as well as for students who want to read literature with greater understanding.



EN 317: Native American Drama, Short Stories, and Nonfiction:

How to tell a good story
Tuesdays &Thursdays 10-11:40am
Professor Amy Hamilton

“I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.”      ~Leslie Marmon Silko

This course examines nonfiction, short stories, and drama written by Indigenous American authors. We will think about how these three genres are distinct and where we might see them link together – for example: true crime inspired theater, dramatic short stories, and creative nonfiction. Students will explore literature through staged readings, creative projects, and hybrid papers.  

**EN 317 counts as an ELECTIVE for English majors and minors and Native American Studies majors and minors. It also fulfills the SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN A DIVERSE WORLD General Education Requirement and the WORLD CULTURES Graduation Requirement.


“EN 363: Studies in Genre—Drama”

(Dr. David Wood, Wed. 6-9:20)

Image result for antigone images

(Antigone, outloudtheatre.org)

This course offers what for many will serve as a signature opportunity: the chance to familiarize yourselves with an advanced survey of drama spanning 2,500 years. By placing its focus on the family (and various familial figurations), this cross-generic course— titled “Family Drama”— will include keen plays written by key playwrights sweeping across this vast stretch of time:

Antigone (Sophocles); Medea (Euripides); Lysistrata (Aristophanes); Doctor Faustus (Marlowe); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare); Tartuffe (Moliere); Miss Julie (Strindberg); The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde); The Cherry Orchard (Chekhov); Trifles (Glaspell); Desire Under the Elms (O’Neill); Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (Williams);

A Raisin in the Sun (Hansberry); Topdog/ Underdog (Parks); & Eurydice (Ruhl).

In addition to scintillating discussion, live theatre, and film clips, course participants can expect to complete two short essays; a group presentation; and a longer essay.


EN 372


M/W 12-1:40pm

Instructor: Lesley Larkin

Defining American Identity from Reconstruction to the Jazz Age

EN 372

Between 1865 and 1930, American literature is especially varied. This period encompass several important aesthetic movements (realism, naturalism, modernism) and includes an unprecedented diversification of point of view, as immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans, and women of various ethnic groups gained increased (though uneven) access to literacy and publishing. Furthermore, sweeping historical changes (Reconstruction—and its failure; the advent of American imperialism; high levels of immigration—and its drastic restriction; migration, urbanization, and industrialization within the United States; the First World War; the suffrage movement; and the stock market crash) find their way—explicitly and implicitly—into the works of this period.

We will focus on social and political issues that illuminate these historical shifts, gauging how the literature we read not only records such changes but also engages them thematically and aesthetically. Remaining alert to how these works speak to our contemporary historical moment, we will take as our central concern a question at least as fraught between 1865 and 1930 as it is today: What does it mean to be American?



“EN 412: Chaucer—

Gender, Power, and Authority”

(Dr. David Wood, T/Tr 9-10:40)

Image result for chaucer images

This course offers what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to familiarize yourself with the works of Geoffrey Chaucer— the so-called ‘Father of English Literature’— in his original Middle English, in order to examine his relevance both to his own time and place and to our own. While we will focus on The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer’s framed, experimental narrative, we will also familiarize ourselves with two of his dream visions: The Book of the Duchess and The Parliament of Fowls. Our primary aim will be to enjoy Chaucer’s poetry, and thus to engage Middle English as a spoken and written language. We will also explore Chaucer’s views on authorship and readership; social dilemmas and class rivalries; theories of the aesthetic; racial, religious, and gender differences (including medieval traditions of anti-feminism and anti-Semitism); and the vexed relationship between ‘authority’ and the 14th century English “birth of the individual.” Participants can expect two short essays, a group presentation, and a longer essay. Further, all students will learn Middle English poetic pronunciation, and, having done so, will show off their talents aloud! Frankly, it is an honor to be able to share the reading of these works with you this semester, and I look forward to it immensely.


EN 416 / 516 – Second Language Acquisition

Time:  Monday & Wednesday, 4:00 - 5:40 pm (4 credits)

Instructor:  Dr. David Boe (dboe@nmu.edu)

Course description:  A comprehensive survey of theoretical models    and research in second language acquisition.  Topics include language acquisition in children and adults, the relevance of psychological and social factors, empirical SLA research design, and implications for classroom language teaching (e.g., in ESL/EFL contexts).  This is a required course for our TESOL Certification Program, and can also    be used as an M.A. pedagogy course.  Qualified undergraduates are welcome, and no specific background in linguistics is required.

EN 416 books



EN 511/ED 595, The Teaching of Reading for the English Professional

Winter 2019, with Dr. Wendy Farkas

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Are you looking for a graduate course that offers immediate and hands on-applicability to your own or your future classroom?
  • Are you interested in learning about proven ways to not only enhance students’ reading abilities but also to improve their attitudes toward reading and their motivation to read?
  • Are you seeking a classroom community where you can explore teaching and learning through a workshop approach?

Graduate Bulletin Description for EN 511/ED 595 and How It Counts

“An examination of techniques used to teach developmental reading, comprehension, and vocabulary, stressing practical application to the classroom.  Although intended for secondary and college-level English teachers, the techniques are adaptable to teaching in the content areas”

Counts toward English MA (Pedagogy Track or open elective in any track), TESOL elective, or      

Reading Specialist K-12 elective (with advisor approval)

EN 511 Course Objectives

              By the end of the semester, students will

  • identify theories on learning to read, reading to learn, and the reading/writing connection;
  • integrate newly acquired theoretical knowledge and reading research;
  • design and facilitate a workshop demonstrating how theory drives pedagogical decisions;  and,
  • justify their theoretical and instructional approaches in a praxis essay (important component of job application materials).

Types of Assignments

  • Facilitate class discussions                                                  
  • Conduct teaching demonstrations
  • Participate in reading workshop
  • Participate in writing workshop (Praxis Essays)


Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact me: (906) 227-1656, 3236 Jamrich Hall, or wfarkas@nmu.edu




English 560, Winter Semester 2020

Prof. Russell Prather

This course investigates how Romanticism in Britain and Europe radically transformed the way people thought about nature and their relation to it, and thus helped to shape the history of Western environmentalism.  The course will begin by considering eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and earlier, conceptions of the natural world that so-called Romantics largely rejected.  It will go on to consider “Romantic” nature in a broad range of literary and visual texts from perspectives of philosophy, religion, science, gender, politics, industry and technology, others.  Though William Wordsworth’s worshipful nature poetry, itself profoundly influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, seems to dominate people’s assumptions about the Romantic movement, the course will reveal significant diversity of opinion among late eighteenth, early nineteenth century poets and artists regarding the relationship between humans and their environment.  The course will wrap up with a look at some late nineteenth/early twentieth century Modernists who turn decisively away from Romanticism, implicitly or explicitly privileging culture.

Among the authors and texts likely to be studied: poetry by Anna Letitia Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Robert Burns, John Clare; “Illuminated books” (hybrid texts combining word and image) by William Blake;  prose by Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Edmund Burke (on the sublime), William Gilpin (on the picturesque); paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, George Stubbs, John Constable, John Martin, J.M.W. Turner, Caspar David Friedrich; photographic and illustration work by William Henry Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins, Clara Maria Pope.

JOHN MARTIN, The Bard (1817)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Sunrise with Sea Monster (1845)


Special Topics: EN 595

Screen as Battlefield: Politics and History in Central European Cinema after 1945
Marek Haltof

Tuesday 6:00–9:20

The course explores the treatment of history in Central European cinema (Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak) and the relationship between film and politics. A portion of the course focuses on film and politics under total state patronage of the arts and the use of cinema’s potential for political propaganda. The course, which deals with some Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning films, also incorporates contemporary mainstream cinema and artists’ responses to historical, social, and political issues and events.

The complexity of Central European history and changing political situations typically define the development of its cinema. Films produced in this region thus reflect the history of national insurrections that resulted in military defeats, the presence of occupying forces, the impact of Nazism/Communism, and the suppression of local culture. Lectures and discussions will deal with the relationship between national identity/memory and screen responses to some pivotal, albeit controversial and fervently contested, historical issues


EN 595 Teaching for Creative Writers

Monica McFawn




This wide-ranging pedagogy and professional course deals with all aspects of building and maintaining a teaching practice as a writer.  In this hands-on course, students will design an entirely new course, as well as several class activities they can use throughout their career. Because many creative writers teach both composition and creative writing, this course will explore how the teaching of composition informs and overlaps with the teaching of creative writing—and how class activities can be adjusted to fit multiple courses.  Course design is the largest focus of the course, but we will also discuss the emotional and professional side of teaching. We’ll explore answers to the basic questions new creative writing teachers often face: How do I balance my own writing and scholarship with teaching?  How can I feel inspired in the classroom and avoid burnout? How can I build a teaching career as a creative writer? Where do I find teaching opportunities? How do I cope with difficult classroom situations or move on from mistakes? Teaching should ideally feed creative work, and this course will help students create courses that complement their strengths and interests. 


Course Objectives:

·Students will design an entire, original writing course. Students will learn how to sequence assignments and organize an effective and fun course that plays to their strengths.

·Students will create targeted classroom activities to communicate writing concepts.

·Students will learn ways to cope with the emotional ups and downs of teaching, and how to maintain a growth mindset for both themselves and their students.

·Students will discover new ways to integrate their creative work with their teaching—making sure that the two pursuits complement, rather than compete, with one another. 

·Students will learn the basics of the academic job market—how to find opportunities, interpret job postings, and figure out what type of institution would be a fit.

·Students will also learn about teaching opportunities outside the academy—from writing conferences/retreats to literary organizations.